AFL-CIO in Oregon calls for urgent divestment from fund that owns Israeli spyware company alleged to have targeted union members
When labour organisers passed a resolution this month calling for Oregon’s $100bn state pension fund to divest from a fund that owns NSO Group, it pointed to ways in which the Israeli company’s intrusive spyware is alleged to have been used in the past to target union members.
“It may seem like a cliche, but an injury to one is an injury to all, and we strongly stand behind that,” said Ira Erbs, a part-time professor at Portland Community College and member of the Oregon chapter of the American Federation of Teachers.
Erbs is part of a growing movement of union members in Oregon who are seeking greater transparency from Oregon’s Democratic state treasurer, Tobias Read, about how public employee retirement funds are invested.
Activists such as Erbs have already pressed Read on the retirement fund’s investments in fossil fuels, and in companies that operate private prisons. Now, they are focused on the Oregon fund’s longstanding indirect investment in NSO, the maker of one of the world’s most sophisticated surveillance technologies.
An investigation into NSO by the Pegasus project, an international media consortium led by the French non-profit Forbidden Stories, reported last year that the mobile phone numbers of dozens of Mexican teachers – part of a faction within Mexico’s politically powerful teachers union – had been targeted for possible surveillance in 2016 by the Mexican government, at a time when the union was expressing objections to proposed government reforms.